The Australian approach to “consumer protection” policy is a threat to consumer welfare and free speech

The US Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights recently held hearings to see what, if anything, the U.S. might learn from the approaches of other countries regarding antitrust and consumer protection. US lawmakers would do well to be wary of examples from other jurisdictions, however, that are rooted in different legal and cultural traditions. Shortly before the hearing, for example, Australia’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (ACCC) announced that it was exploring broad new regulations, predicated on theoretical harms, that would threaten both consumer welfare and individuals’ rights to free expression that are completely at odds with American norms. The ACCC seeks vast discretion to shape the way that online platforms operate — a regulatory venture that threatens to undermine the value which companies provide to consumers. Even more troubling are its plans to regulate free expression on the Internet, which…

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